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"Can our field present a united front to the new Administration? Let's start by seeing if we can develop a set of principles for public engagement we can all endorse..."

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    • CommentAuthorTom Atlee
    • CommentTimeMar 27th 2009

    National Park Service Director's Order #75A: 
    Civic Engagement and Public and Involvement
    This policy was affirmed and renewed by the most recent Director.

    The closest set of principles the National Park Service (NPS) has is the Standards section in DO 75A.  There is a huge opportunity for NPS to weigh in and talk about a larger magnitude of "metrics" (as requested by our NPS planning community) in developing government-wide principles and practices.

    Here are the NPS adopted standards, which embody principles.

    B. Standards

    In pursuing the policies stated above, public involvement strategies and activities will be deemed to be successful if they meet the following standards [derived from Steven W. Schukraft, "Navigating the Public Process - Five Keys to Success," Landscapes--The HOK Planning Group Newsletter, April 2002]:

    1) Match the tools to the job. We respect and respond to a community's or public's unique interests, capacities and civic culture. At the beginning of a public involvement and outreach process, we test and refine engagement strategies to respond to the public's diversity of experiences and perspectives. We explain the public involvement process and help the public define how they would like to participate. We clarify visions, goals and values early, and explain how they will influence decision-making.

    2) Ensure that all voices are heard, but none dominate. We actively and meaningfully seek to listen to the voices of all interests. We solicit and hear the diversity of experiences and perspectives. We actively engage those members of the public who may not have been previously or traditionally involved, and keep updated contact lists (especially phone and email) of interested parties.

    3) Maintain ongoing relationships. In the parks and programs, our day-to-day, ongoing relationships provide the foundation for effective public involvement among park superintendents, managers, and staff with their neighbors, fellow agencies, tribes and indigenous communities, local and state governments, and others. We will work with national, state, and local partners, and with park "friends" groups to sustain public engagement in parks, programs, and decision-making.  We do not rely merely upon written correspondence or other notification methods to get people involved, but make the necessary phone calls and try to meet in person. Whenever key matters are under consideration, to the greatest extent possible, we call major partners and follow up with written communication. Beyond striving for quality and personal commitment to these critically important relationships, we also find ways to document and share them with succeeding superintendents and managers throughout the NPS, as appropriate, for the good of the Service.

    4) Build trust and understanding first, then ownership. We include the public, project sponsors and policy makers in a collaborative exploration of the conditions and trends, precedents and possibilities, and key factors that will shape the future. That common knowledge base fosters working relationships, helps build support, and sets the stage for implementation.

    5) Follow a "no surprises" ethic. As a public involvement process moves toward conclusion, we seek to ensure that no one is surprised by new information or controversy. We keep the channels of communication open among all participants.

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